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ROCK TALK : Cover Charge Almost Killed the Tool Show : The band balked at the owner's plan to charge the under-21 crowd an extra $5 to make up for the two-drink minimum. In the end, the surcharge was waived.

November 17, 1994|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Opposites don't always attract; usually they fight. And odds are, it won't be even, much less pretty. Husbands and wives, dogs and cats, jocks and dorks, UCLA and USC, bands and club owners--all natural enemies. For bands, one of the few things members agree on is that they have a common enemy--the club owner. He, in turn, sees the pompous, no-talent rock star as just a necessary, but noisy, evil.

The implicit danger is obvious when it comes to writing in the past tense about something that hasn't happened yet. But the sold-out Tool show at the Ventura Theatre last Tuesday almost didn't happen. It was on, then off, then on again.

Tools' 1993 debut album went gold, plus they have some award-winning videos and a bunch of fans, if no new music. The show, nonetheless, three-fourths sold out at the time, was canceled on the afternoon of Nov. 4. It was resurrected on the following Tuesday, or in plenty of time to get left out of the listings, when venue owner Gary Folgner decided to waive a surcharge aimed at the nondrinking under-aged.

According to Peter Reidling, Tool's tour manager, it was the same old story:

"On Friday, there was a dispute about charging everyone under 21 five extra dollars for a two-drink minimum. We don't think it's right to charge an extra $5; it's just not fair. It was a band and management decision to cancel the show, and we left it up to them. They got back to us, and the show is back on. The show is going to sell out, and they're going to make plenty of money, anyway."

But according to Ventura Theatre manager, Tom Welton, it was the same old story:

"They were crying about the two-drink minimum, because they weren't getting a piece of it. They're trying to tell us how to run our business, which is like us telling them what songs to play. Also, it's not like we're charging people five bucks and they're not getting anything for it. We've had this policy for two or three years. We're not going to make any money off this show, anyway, because most of the people will be underage, and they can't drink.

"After spending 15 bucks to get in, then another 15 for a T-shirt, they don't have any money left. A lot of times, if the kids don't have the extra five bucks, we let 'em in, anyway.

"It costs us approximately $6,800 just to open the doors. We have to pay sound, lights, box office, security, rent, ASCAP and advertising, plus for Tool, we're going to have to spend $1,500 for extra security. It only costs $2 or $3 to make a T-shirt, so if they really cared about their fans, they'd have cheaper T-shirts, and they would let people record the show like the Grateful Dead and Phish do."

But according to Toby Emery, the raging part of local rockers Raging Arb & the Redheads, it was the same old story:

"The theater is the only place where kids can go to see a band. But, if they're going to drop the $5 charge for some national touring act, then why not do it for the locals?"

I think I'll wait for the free Tool show fueled by free beer with bouncers washing my car with Tool T-shirts.

*

The Voodoo Lounge in Santa Barbara, a venue that has had more names than Mr. Elizabeth Taylor, is heading south of the border without changing its address. Formerly, the Beach House, the Beach Shack, the Pacific Coast Dance Company, Collage and, for a moment, Moments.

According to Darren the Manager, it's the very principle we learned in Economics 101: "Money. We wanna be successful. We were making money, but not enough. We weren't cutting it. This way, we'll be the only fish in the pond.

"We've already starting on Spanish radio stations and we'll have live bands four nights a week, Thursday through Sunday. The first band will be Grupo Atrevido tonight. We're bringing a little bit of Mexico back to Santa Barbara. Now you can go on vacation without leaving your own town."

Directly across the street, you can still get a great burrito or chicken tamale at Mac's--not much dancing, but no bouncers and great food.

Across the parking lot, the Calypso on State Street, formerly the Ketch, has become Collapse-o as far as live music goes. Now it's reggae on Thursdays, DJs and worse the rest of the week.

For live rock music, the jumpin' part of State Street is barely twitching with Alex's Cantina, Toes Tavern and Joseppi's. According to Joey the Manager at Alex's: "This is the worst I've ever seen it. We'll have to wait until spring and see what happens."

*

Circus Frequency had been the Next Big Thing, not as long as the Cubs, but seemingly for their entire existence. Losing the recent Battle of the Bands didn't help, according to Jeff Rodgers, the drummer of the nearly former band.

"That Battle of the Bands probably kept us together a little longer, but we no longer exist, Rodgers said, adding that singer Kirsten Candy left "because she didn't like the direction the music was going. The sound was too hard, and she wanted it to stay more mellow."

"This has been going on for a couple of years. We're doing one more show on Dec. 2 at Alex's Cantina, sort of a death-of-a-band show. But all the musicians of the band are still together, so in the meantime, we're looking for singers, male of female."

Want to be a singer in a rock 'n' roll band? Call Rodgers at 569-5018.

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